Training for Zion Update

4 months down, 2 to go.

As I enter the last third of my training block, I am feeling pretty good about it all. I haven’t completed all the mileage as written, but overall have done really well.

A couple weeks ago I ran a solo 50K for training. I had everything I needed in my truck, parked in a spot I would pass by a few times and used it as an aid station. It was a very quiet and overcast day in the canyon, which kept the temps cool. I used it as time to practice nutrition, using my poles, and to see how my mind would hold up for several hours without anyone to talk to. Everything went perfectly except my shoes sliding around some and causing blisters. I have yet to find exactly the right trail shoe. I was actually quite surprised at how quickly the time went by until about the marathon mark. Then I was just ready to finish. It took me right at 7 hours, which was my guess, so all went really well.

I also did my first run from evening to night. I run in the dark in the morning often. But I haven’t ever done that in the canyon. Derreck came to keep an eye on Donna and I as we looped around trails to different parking lots to check in. What surprised me most was how hard it is to see right as the sun is gone, but still light enough that a headlamp doesn’t help. It’s really tricky during that time. Also, how fast the temperature dropped as soon as it was dark dark. But what was most fabulous about running in the canyon at night is the open sky without any light pollution. The stars!! It was absolutely incredible!

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set into place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Psalm 8:3-4

And then just this week, the race director announced a course change. My first thought was dread. But after they explained it all, it’s actually all the same course, just start/finish in a different place and the order of the trails is a little different. I will need to re-think my drop bag items and placement, but still have plenty of time to get it all sorted out.

I’m also over half way to my fundraising goal for lupus. I’m so grateful to the many people who have donated. If your curious what that’s about, see my previous post. As always, thank you for reading. Happy running!

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Why Zion 100?

You hear it often in the business world and the running world; “What’s your why?” You need a strong “why” because if you don’t, when it gets uncomfortable, when it gets hard, you may lose sight of your goals or quit your race.

My running Why has evolved over time. When I first started running it was to lose weight. What I didn’t realize as I was shedding pounds is that I also was shedding my depression. As I ran more and more, my whys became about race goals. 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Boston Qualifier. Then I found trail running. Running trails brought me closer to my creator. The beauty and purity connected me to God in another avenue.

After running trails I was introduced to Ultra Marathons. I never thought I would ever run farther than 26.2 miles, a marathon. I couldn’t believe people ran farther than that. But the more I ran trails, the longer I wanted to be out on them. My first 50K I just wanted to see if I could run that far. My second one was all about the location and the experience at Monument Valley . It was so incredible, beautiful, humbling, and hard. But so worth it. After that is when I got sick.

Sunrise at Monument Valley

The next 50K I ran was Cedro Peak. It was just over a year since MV and I was just so grateful to be running again. I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to run far again. It was such a blessing. I was much slower. But after a few miles of feeling sorry for myself that I had this stupid disease, I realized I could still be stuck in bed. That run turned into a song of thanksgiving and praise to God that I was running at all.

Cedro Peak over my right shoulder

50 miles, could I?? I had a lot of self doubt in training. My why was to see what I was made of. I wanted to come to the end of myself. I was tired of the pain without rhyme or reason. This was a pain I could control. I could run until I decided if I wanted to stop or not. I was chasing cutoffs but I didn’t want to stop. I knew I had it in me. Thanks to my husband and son who took turns pacing me, I was able to finish strong.

Palo Duro Trail Run 50 miles

50 Miles at Antelope Canyon. Recap Why?? Location, location, location. Have you seen my pictures? They don’t do it justice. Plus I liked the training. I liked the distance. Plus my friends were doing it. So “Why not?”

Why 100 miles at Zion?

First off, I don’t know how much longer I have to run crazy long distance. I really want to at least try for 100 miles. Plus, you get a really cool buckle!! Not familiar with the belt buckle hundred milers get? Here’s an Explanation .

All the other reasons I have had for my other ultras are good. But not good enough to carry me through this kind of distance. If I make this race only about me, well, that’s not a good enough why. Because at mile 70, just before another mile long steep hill, I might say enough. I don’t want to lose sight of my goal – to finish the race set out before me. That’s not to say finish at all costs. If I am risking injury, I will stop. I’m not going to be stupid. However, I know that at some point my mind will want me to stop. My legs will hurt. My feet will hurt. I will be tired. I will think this is dumb. I will think about giving up. I need a good reason to continue, up steep hills, in the dark, through the night. And it’s got to be about more than a buckle and some yummy aid station food.

I am raising money for Lupus Foundation of America. These funds will go directly to help improve the quality of life of those with lupus. This is my why. Many others with lupus are in much worse shape than I am. The younger you are when you contract this disease the worse it attacks your body. I am fortunate that I was older. I am fortunate that I was already a runner and in good health. I am fortunate to have been diagnosed quickly compared to the countless others who’ve waited years for treatment. I have a voice that is able to bring attention to this disease through my running. I want to bring awareness and give help to my brothers and sisters who are fighting much harder than I am. This run is for all my fellow Lupus Warriors.

If you would like to donate it would mean so much to me. Thank you with all my heart. Click on the link below.

https://support.lupus.org/site/TR/MYM/TeamMakeYourMark?px=2522831&pg=personal&fr_id=1641

Training for Zion 100

The plan: run 100 miles at Zion Ultras on April 10-11. The goal: don’t DNF! The ultimate goal: under 30 hours.

I’m just starting week 12 in my training plan. I am using the plan from the book Relentless Forward Progress. So far, it’s going well. I am keeping my miles on the very conservative side, knowing my body well enough now that I have had 5 years of ultra running and 3.5 with lupus. I’m pleasantly pleased!

One of the perks of training for an ultra with your friends is the sheer amount of time you can spend together during long runs. We have some of the most amazing conversations that probably would not happen in other settings. Topics just flow, and with the 3 of us, they flow deeply. I truly believe that running can and does help people have stronger mental health!

Classy, sassy, and bad-assy.

There are days I question my sanity for deciding to run 100 miles. And certainly I have friends and family (that’s you, Dad) that don’t understand or worry about me. It’s hard to put into words, but I need it. I need to run. I know I don’t have to run so far, but I enjoy the process of running, I enjoy challenging myself and the idea is just so exciting, even if a little scary. I love the atmosphere of ultras. These are the nicest people you will ever meet.

I saw a lady’s shirt that said, “The more I run, the less I want to run away” and that just has stuck with me because I get it! Running can be an escape from the noise of the world and all its trouble, it can be the place where you get your best ideas, it can be community, it can be church! It can be where God speaks loudest, it can be just the quiet you need.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

I will continue to train so that I can be well prepared for this endeavor. Stay tuned for more updates! Read through my previous posts on other race recaps I have written about and more on why I run. Thanks for reading!

3 Reasons Why People Disagree with You (When you’re obviously right ! )and What to Do About it

3 Reasons Why People Disagree with You (When you’re obviously right ! )and What to Do About it

3 Reasons Why People Disagree with You (When you’re obviously right ! )and What to Do About it
— Read on blueskiesandgreenpastures.com/2021/01/08/3-reasons-why-people-disagree-with-you-when-youre-obviously-right-and-what-to-do-about-it/

I’m sharing because I couldn’t have said it better.

An Honest Resume

I have applied for many jobs over the last six months and have created several resumes to cater to the job I was applying to. I sometimes stopped and thought to myself how funny it would be if our resumes told the whole truth. Mine would be something like this below…

Sometimes I like to dress up and take tea.

(Somewhat) Dedicated and focused (Squirrel!) professional with exceptional communication (I will tell it like it is) and customer service skills. Excels Adequate at prioritizing and completing multiple tasks while remaining adaptable and flexible (and only will cuss a little)

  • Friendly and courteous (if I have had enough coffee and snacks)
  • Excellent communication, interpersonal and organizational (definitely NOT) skills
  • Self-motivated, adaptable and positive attitude (again, if enough coffee and snacks are provided)
  • Excellent work ethic (when I am not too tired)
  • CPR and First Aid Certifications 2019 (but I don’t remember anything)

Experience

10/2020 – Current

Secretary Western Plateau Elementary School

Answer phones, order supplies, deposit cash and checks, balance budgets, run payroll reports, report cards, and other office duties. Interaction with students, teachers, administration and parents. Gets distracted by kids in the hallway. Has to go to the bathroom often. Likes to talk about Harry Potter and Star Wars. I do a lot of running, so I might be late and definitely don’t shower before work sometimes. Keeps snacks in desk drawer, but will bring my own mouse traps. Will often ask to leave to get more coffee. Prefers to eat at my desk so I can take a nap in my car during lunch.

American Dirt Book Review

It’s been a long time since I read a novel that has stuck with me for me several days after finishing. Two other books I read that have really made an impact in me are Educated, by Tara Westover, and Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan. I highly recommend them.

But back to American Dirt. I think this is an important book for our time in America. Where I live there is a portion of our population that is undocumented and I worked at an elementary school that has several families that are in various stages from illegal to in the process of a visa. Working closely with these families was at times extremely frustrating to sometimes sympathetic. It is a very complicated situation without any easy solutions. I believe in rule of law and have always felt strongly that there is a right way and a wrong way for immigrants to come to the United States. This book has opened my eyes to the desperation that causes many people to come to the United States. I also have spoken with a few families that are from Mexico and they confirmed many of the problems in Mexico, including the cartels, the corrupt government, drugs, kidnapping, trafficking, bribery, and murder.

This book left me with two distinct emotions: sympathy for the migrants, but also no understanding of why people from Mexico or Central America once they get here do not do everything possible to become citizens or get refugee status or something. Granted, I don’t know what it takes, but surely there is some way to start the process. The other thing that frustrates me is that many people don’t learn English, even after years in this country. I know it’s hard to learn a new language as an adult, but for those that have been in horrendous situations I would think I would want to become a part of my new country. Now, before you say I don’t know what I ask talking about, you are right. It’s just this book got me thinking.

American Dirt follows the story of a family in Acapulco. The husband is a journalist and the wife owns a book store. They have an 8 year old son. The gist is the husband writes an article about the cartel leader and the horror that he brings the community. As a backlash, he murders the whole family at a birthday party, 16 people total, while only Mom and son survived. The story is their escape to the North, the people they meet and the harrowing trip.

The book is well written, engaging, slightly disturbing, and at times violent, but never overly graphic. I liked the point of view from a mother protecting her son and the complete survival mode she encompasses. The strength she portrayed is uplifting even though her situation is quite dismal. I don’t know how accurate the book is on the journey to the north, but then again, every situation would be different.

I wonder what can be done about the cartels and the corruption in Mexico and Central America. I know not every country or city is bad, but statistics say it is getting worse and spreading. Many people feel they don’t have a choice but risk their lives to leave and hope for a fresh start in the US. What can we do? I think the US would not be able to sustain an unlimited number of immigrants for many reasons, and I would imagine most people would prefer to stay in their own country if they were safe and could trust their government. These are just some of my thoughts after reading the book. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

What am I doing to myself?

I’ve spent most of the last 6 months in denial. I’ve been very depressed again, but different than it’s been in the past. It’s been manifested is escapism. Every little thought that attempts to emerge has been shoved back down and I have forged ahead. But I have had to. I couldn’t stay in bed for months this time. I couldn’t sleep most of the day away. I’ve just carried on like usual, only feeling pretty dead inside. There hasn’t been much joy or hope.

Work, waste time on my phone, sleep.

I was running and praying, thinking about the end of 2020. I like to have a verse to guide the new year. Processing all the crap and hard stuff of 2020, I want to make some changes in myself to better handle whatever may come in 2021. The verse that came to my mind is 1 Corinthians 6:12

I can do what I want, but it isn’t all good for me. I can over drink, I can over sleep, I can waste hours on my phone, I can eat crap, but none of that is good for me or makes me a stronger person or better able to cope with hard stuff. If I want to be a good wife, mother, and friend; if I want to be a good runner, if I want better physical, mental and spiritual health, then I need to cut out what isn’t beneficial, and choose what is good.

If I am honest, I was being mastered by my phone. It’s embarrassing, but it’s true. I neglected housework, real communication with my family and processing my thoughts about my mom being gone. I was also being mastered by poor food choices. Even though I am free to eat anything I want, it’s not all good for me. I gained weight again and now my clothes don’t fit right. It’s frustrating, knowing I could have prevented it simply by my own choices. I have no one to blame except myself.

I hope someone else is encouraged and joins me in the process of denying themselves, not because they have to, but because of what’s better.

Hard stuff

I have been thinking a lot over the last few months about many things – pain, suffering, comfort, The Abundant Life, God’s will, his sovereignty, my faith, my prayer life, and more.

My mom, my best friend, faithful daughter of the King, went to heaven July 12. It was unexpected, and so very, very sad. But I saw it, and still do see it as a gift from God. Her suffering ended. She had been in chronic pain for many years, I could hear it in her voice when I spoke to her. Yet she rarely complained to me. Her lifestyle was slowly stripped away as she lost ability to do many of the things she used to do and enjoy. But she continued to pray, read the Bible, have many spirited conversations with Dad and I. We would pray for her pain to ease, but it never did. I suppose that is life – as you age and your body deteriorates, and then it ends. God finally called her home the way we all wish it could happen, at home and in her sleep.

My body has been deteriorating as well. Lupus has been progressing, slowly, for which I am grateful. I still have really great days, weeks, months even, and then I don’t. Sometimes it is a short setback, sometimes it’s a major flare that won’t stop. So my rheumatologist decided it was time to take an immunosuppressant, as lupus flares means your immune system is super overactive. I felt great for 2.5 weeks! I could feel myself improving and feeling like myself again! And then… Why did there have to be an and then?

I got shingles. I didn’t know what was happening at first so I went through pretty awful pain for 6 days until it became so excruciating I couldn’t really walk. I finally was seen at urgent care and then got the antivirals. Let me tell you, this pain was like nothing I had ever experienced. It was constant and then it would shoot in my leg and back and I was in such agony. I am on the 3rd day since taking the medication and it has eased up somewhat.

This severe pain had me thinking all kinds of things. First, I cried out to God to remove it. Then I cried for him to at least relieve it even slightly. This pain was relentless. Day, night, sitting, laying down, no relief. How do people live like this? Every day? I thought of my mom, I thought of a woman I follow on Instagram who has chronic pain and is mostly bed ridden. These two women have been examples of how to still praise God even in their pain. I thought of Job, and all he suffered, I thought of the apostle Paul, and all he endured. I knew I needed to turn my mind towards finding something to be thankful for.

I have a wonderful family and friends that have prayed with me, brought me meals, walked my dogs. There are small things.

But the pain is all encompassing. I can’t make it stop. I can’t even cry because for some reason that made the pain intensify. I begged God again. I said, my God, why?

Then I had the picture of Jesus on the cross. His agony was so much worse. And he cried out, “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me?!”

Pain, suffering, comfort, God’s will, praying. How does it all fit in to the life of a Christ follower?

One part of me said, pray harder, have more faith, believe it and God will make it happen! God help my unbelief. Okay, what did I do wrong, I followed the formula but God didn’t answer my prayer how I wanted. Here’s the deal – what am I going to do about it, if he doesn’t answer prayers the way I pray them. Is He enough? Even if this is what he chooses for me? I need to not only be okay with the body and all its diseases, but to have joy and be thankful. That is hard stuff!! You must truly believe God is who he says he is or you’re going to eventually walk away from faith. He doesn’t always give us the life we envisioned for ourselves. If we are going to thrive and have the abundant life, then we need to praise God, no matter what.

Always be joyful . Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thes 5:16-18

It is so hard not to complain, to compare, and to become bitter. But that improves my life Zero percent. In fact I think those things make my life worse. My church when we lived in Albuquerque had a phrase, ‘Preach the Gospel to Yourself’ often, over and over, anytime you need to. We are frail humans. We forget God’s word. Stay in it, surround yourself with people who will hold you accountable.

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate each other to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

Block Party

May 16 the group Bigger Than The Trail (BTTT) held a virtual “block party” run in place of a physical location. BTTT is a 501(c)(3) organization that uses running as a platform to advocate for mental health. They team up with licensed counselors to provide free online services. Amazing.

Anyway, I don’t normally do virtual races. My race budget is limited and if I am going to spend the money, it’s more about the people and the experience than a shirt or medal. So I skip them. However, because of the mental advocacy I was going to participate in this Block Party as it is something near and dear to me. Because Hubs was without work, I wasn’t going to officially register, just run. I mentioned that on their IG page and got a DM that they had some donations and I could have the last one!

I officially registered! I have been in a lupus flare so I was not up for a very long distance so I opted for the half marathon. The idea was to make your own route around your block where you live. Hubs ran the first 10K with me and I finished the rest on my own. It was crazy going around and around the same streets. I was definitely getting bored of that. But it’s the perseverance when things get hard or tiring or boring that makes you stronger. So I kept going.

I used that time to pray. I have been in a slump. The anxiety from the news and the unknown future about Hubs getting a job and not being able to do the things that help me mentally has taken a toll on me. The stress is wreaking havoc in my body. Depression and lupus flares up. I know I am not the only one who is having a hard time.

In a blur of tears I cry out to God, I don’t feel your presence? Where are you? Why have you left me? In moments like these I must stop and repeat God’s promises.

  • I know he will never leave me.
  • I know he is for me, not against me.
  • I know I can approach the throne of grace with confidence, and I will find mercy and grace.

Our emotions will get the best of us if we let them. That’s why we need to keep God’s word in our heart and other believers pointing us back to the truth.

It’s Permanent

May is Lupus Awareness Month AND Mental Health Awareness Month. These two things effect me greatly. I thought I would share a little more of my story through my tattoo.

I had been contemplating getting a tattoo that would represent me in a special way; one that would remind me who I am and how far I have come. I thought long and drew some ideas out. And then I finalized my drawing. The next step was to decide where should I get this tattoo? I knew I wanted it visible to myself. I wanted to see it to remember. But did I want it visible for everyone? Am I ready to talk about it? Do I want to explain it and open up to vulnerability? I kept that drawing for over a year. My son gave me the gift of this tattoo for Christmas this year, so I had no excuse not to do it.

There are three components to my butterfly tattoo. The butterfly is one of the symbols for lupus, which often causes a malar or ‘butterfly’ rash across the face on cheeks and bridge of the nose. Lupus affects my everyday life and there is not a cure. It is sometimes called an invisible illness, because ‘you don’t look sick.’ I want to bring awareness to lupus. The Lupus Foundation of America estimates 1.5 million Americans and at least 5 million people worldwide have a form of lupus.

The semicolon makes up the butterfly’s body. Amy Bleuel, founder of Project Semicolon, shares the meaning of the semicolon. 

“It represents continuance. Authors usually use the semicolon when they choose not to end the sentence. You are the author and the sentence is your life, and you’re choosing to continue.”

I have depression and have contemplated suicide multiple times. Yet I continue, I chose not to end the sentence. I got help, and I continue to seek help at times when I can’t fight it on my own anymore. My story is here, if you would like to read more.

Chronic Illness and Mental Illness overlap in many ways. We don’t always feel free to share our struggles. We are afraid of being judged or thought less of. But we need to share. We need to speak out. Others are struggling and feel alone in their feelings and isolated from others. We need to bravely share our stories to encourage those struggling and to inform and educate the other people in our lives.

There is no shame in admitting you are not well, be it physically or mentally. Mental illness is a medical condition. Treatment is available. Please reach out to someone if you feel helpless. Suicide is not your only option.

So I said there were three components to the tattoo. The last thing is really the first thing.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17

When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I became a new creation. Like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, the old has gone, the new is here. When you belong to Christ, you become a new person, you begin a new life with Christ. You are a child of God!

Of course this does not mean my life is easy or I am always happy. But I have a solid hope to build my life on.

Continue reading “It’s Permanent”